Edgar Degas

French, Impressionist, 1834-1917

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The Bellelli Family
Edgar Degas
337 USD


A Woman Seated beside
a Vase of Flowers

Edgar Degas
304 USD

The Millinery Shop
Edgar Degas
295 USD

Dance Class
Edgar Degas
298 USD
 
Dance Class at the Opera
Edgar Degas
328 USD
 
Ballet School
Edgar Degas
330 USD
 
The Ballet Class
Edgar Degas
347 USD
 
The Dance Class
Edgar Degas
355 USD

The Ballet Rehearsal on Stage
Edgar Degas
305 USD

The Rehearsal of the Ballet Onstage
Edgar Degas
299 USD

Ballet Rehearsal
Edgar Degas
285 USD

Two Dancers in the Studio
Edgar Degas
219 USD

Two Dancers on Stage
Edgar Degas
239 USD

The Rehearsal
Edgar Degas
293 USD

The Rehearsal
Edgar Degas
281 USD

Musicians in the Orchestra
Edgar Degas
280 USD

The Rehearsal of the Ballet on Stage
Edgar Degas
298 USD

The Dance Lesson
Edgar Degas
280 USD

Dancer with a Bouquet of Flowers
Edgar Degas
286 USD

Café Singer
Edgar Degas
223 USD

Miss La La at the Cirque Fernando
Edgar Degas
270 USD

At the Café-Concert:
The Song of the Dog
Edgar Degas
243 USD

Portrait of Miss Cassatt
Edgar Degas
245 USD

The Collector of Prints
Edgar Degas
240 USD

In a Café
Edgar Degas
277 USD

Café-Concert
at 'Les Ambassadeurs'

Edgar Degas
240 USD

A Carriage at the Races
Edgar Degas
233 USD

Ballet Class
Edgar Degas
284 USD

Victoria Dubourg
Edgar Degas
243 USD

Mademoiselle Malo
Edgar Degas
243 USD

Portrait of Lorenzo Pagans, Spanish tenor and Auguste Degas
Edgar Degas
238 USD

Horses in a Meadow
Edgar Degas
224 USD

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Edgar Degas (19 July 1834 – 27 September 1917) was a French artist famous for his paintings, sculptures, prints, and drawings. He is especially identified with the subject of dance; more than half of his works depict dancers. He is regarded as one of the founders of Impressionism, although he rejected the term, preferring to be called a realist. He was a superb draftsman, and particularly masterly in depicting movement, as can be seen in his renditions of dancers, racecourse subjects and female nudes. His portraits are notable for their psychological complexity and for their portrayal of human isolation.

At the beginning of his career, he wanted to be a history painter, a calling for which he was well prepared by his rigorous academic training and close study of classic art. In his early thirties, he changed course, and by bringing the traditional methods of a history painter to bear on contemporary subject matter, he became a classical painter of modern life.

Artistic style

Degas is often identified as an Impressionist, an understandable but insufficient description. Impressionism originated in the 1860s and 1870s and grew, in part, from the realism of such painters as Courbet and Corot. The Impressionists painted the realities of the world around them using bright, "dazzling" colors, concentrating primarily on the effects of light, and hoping to infuse their scenes with immediacy. They wanted to express what they saw in that exact moment.

Technically, Degas differs from the Impressionists in that he "never adopted the Impressionist color fleck", and he continually belittled their practice of painting en plein air. "He was often as anti-impressionist as the critics who reviewed the shows", according to art historian Carol Armstrong; as Degas himself explained, "no art was ever less spontaneous than mine. What I do is the result of reflection and of the study of the great masters; of inspiration, spontaneity, temperament, I know nothing." Nonetheless, he is described more accurately as an Impressionist than as a member of any other movement. His scenes of Parisian life, his off-center compositions, his experiments with color and form, and his friendship with several key Impressionist artists—most notably Mary Cassatt and Édouard Manet—all relate him intimately to the Impressionist movement.

Degas's style reflects his deep respect for the old masters (he was an enthusiastic copyist well into middle age) and his great admiration for Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres and Eugène Delacroix. He was also a collector of Japanese prints, whose compositional principles influenced his work, as did the vigorous realism of popular illustrators such as Daumier and Gavarni. Although famous for horses and dancers, Degas began with conventional historical paintings such as The Daughter of Jephthah (c.1859–61) and The Young Spartans (c.1860–62), in which his gradual progress toward a less idealized treatment of the figure is already apparent. During his early career, Degas also painted portraits of individuals and groups; an example of the latter is The Bellelli Family (c.1858–67), a brilliantly composed and psychologically poignant portrayal of his aunt, her husband, and their children. In this painting, as in The Young Spartans and many later works, Degas was drawn to the tensions present between men and women. In his early paintings, Degas already evidenced the mature style that he would later develop more fully by cropping subjects awkwardly and by choosing unusual viewpoints.

By the late 1860s, Degas had shifted from his initial forays into history painting to an original observation of contemporary life. Racecourse scenes provided an opportunity to depict horses and their riders in a modern context. He began to paint women at work, milliners and laundresses. Mlle. Fiocre in the Ballet La Source, exhibited in the Salon of 1868, was his first major work to introduce a subject with which he would become especially identified, dancers.

In many subsequent paintings dancers were shown backstage or in rehearsal, emphasizing their status as professionals doing a job. From 1870 Degas increasingly painted ballet subjects, partly because they sold well and provided him with needed income after his brother's debts had left the family bankrupt. Degas began to paint café life as well, in works such as L’Absinthe and Singer with a Glove. His paintings often hinted at narrative content in a way that was highly ambiguous; for example, Interior (which has also been called The Rape) has presented a conundrum to art historians in search of a literary source—Thérèse Raquin has been suggested-but it may be a depiction of prostitution.

As his subject matter changed, so, too, did Degas's technique. The dark palette that bore the influence of Dutch painting gave way to the use of vivid colors and bold brushstrokes. Paintings such as Place de la Concorde read as "snapshots," freezing moments of time to portray them accurately, imparting a sense of movement. The lack of color in the 1874 Ballet Rehearsal on Stage and the 1876 The Ballet Instructor can be said to link with his interest in the new technique of photography. The changes to his palette, brushwork, and sense of composition all evidence the influence that both the Impressionist movement and modern photography, with its spontaneous images and off-kilter angles, had on his work. 

Blurring the distinction between portraiture and genre pieces, he painted his bassoonist friend, Désiré Dihau, in The Orchestra of the Opera (1868–69) as one of fourteen musicians in an orchestra pit, viewed as though by a member of the audience. Above the musicians can be seen only the legs and tutus of the dancers onstage, their figures cropped by the edge of the painting. Art historian Charles Stuckey has compared the viewpoint to that of a distracted spectator at a ballet, and says that "it is Degas' fascination with the depiction of movement, including the movement of a spectator's eyes as during a random glance, that is properly speaking 'Impressionist'."

Degas's mature style is distinguished by conspicuously unfinished passages, even in otherwise tightly rendered paintings. He frequently blamed his eye troubles for his inability to finish, an explanation that met with some skepticism from colleagues and collectors who reasoned, as Stuckey explains, that "his pictures could hardly have been executed by anyone with inadequate vision". The artist provided another clue when he described his predilection "to begin a hundred things and not finish one of them", and was in any case notoriously reluctant to consider a painting complete.

His interest in portraiture led Degas to study carefully the ways in which a person's social stature or form of employment may be revealed by their physiognomy, posture, dress, and other attributes. In his 1879 Portraits, At the Stock Exchange, he portrayed a group of Jewish businessmen with a hint of anti-Semitism. In 1881 he exhibited two pastels, Criminal Physiognomies, that depicted juvenile gang members recently convicted of murder in the "Abadie Affair". Degas had attended their trial with sketchbook in hand, and his numerous drawings of the defendants reveal his interest in the atavistic features thought by some 19th-century scientists to be evidence of innate criminality. In his paintings of dancers and laundresses, he reveals their occupations not only by their dress and activities but also by their body type: his ballerinas exhibit an athletic physicality, while his laundresses are heavy and solid.

By the later 1870s Degas had mastered not only the traditional medium of oil on canvas, but pastel as well. The dry medium, which he applied in complex layers and textures, enabled him more easily to reconcile his facility for line with a growing interest in expressive color.

Reputation

During his life, public reception of Degas's work ranged from admiration to contempt. As a promising artist in the conventional mode, Degas had a number of paintings accepted in the Salon between 1865 and 1870. These works received praise from Pierre Puvis de Chavannes and the critic Jules-Antoine Castagnary. He soon joined forces with the Impressionists, however, and rejected the rigid rules, judgements, and elitism of the Salon - just as the Salon and general public initially rejected the experimentalism of the Impressionists.

Degas's paintings, pastels, drawings, and sculptures are on prominent display in many museums, and have been the subject of many museum exhibitions and retrospectives. Recent exhibitions include Degas: Drawings and Sketchbooks (The Morgan Library, 2010); Picasso Looks at Degas (Museu Picasso de Barcelona, 2010); Degas and the Nude (Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 2011); Degas' Method (Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, 2013); and Degas's Little Dancer (National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C., 2014).

Source: Wikipedia